Made In Dagenham

Date 29th September 2017
Society Worthing Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Pavilion, Worthing
Type of Production Musical
Director Adam Hoskins
Musical Director Adam Hoskins

Report

Author: Jose Harrison

This is an interesting show based on fact being educational for the young of today. Adam Hoskins directed a fairly traditional version of the show giving the cast plenty of scope to explore their characters. As the MD he made the most of the musical numbers, with the cast obviously enjoying the various harmonies, which sounded really good.  The band were excellent and the sound balance between stage and pit was reasonable with minimal occasions when the words were drowned by the instruments. I thought the lighting was very appropriate, especially in ‘This is America’, enhancing the look of the show considerably and making the most of the clever and simplistic set with excellent scene changes.

Nikki Reynolds played the lead role of Rita O’Grady who was an unwilling participant in the negotiations at the start. Rita becomes a strong working class woman and a force to be reckoned with despite the break-up of her family.  Her husband, played by James Reynolds, Eddie O’Grady, was a typical blue collar worker of the period, but confused and unable to cope with his wife’s new found independence. His superb rendition of ‘The Letter’ was incredibly moving.  In fact both these performers sang outstandingly and really brought home to the audience what turmoil the Ford workers went through in 1968. Ruth Roberts played Beryl producing some lovely comic moments. Despite her foul language she came over superbly and memorably. Jonathan Stamp’s interpretation of Harold Wilson was great taking advantage of every single comic line in the script, his timing in speeches and a strong song and dance an example to all. Equally amusing was Suzanne Britten as the indomitable Barbara Castle performed with personality and power. Her scene with Wilson was excellent by both, but her number ‘Ideal World’ was brilliant. Sally McDonald played Connie Riley (the union rep) with great compassion and polish which brought out the fears and sorrow with her developing cancer, the impact on the campaign, and then death, all very poignant and movingly staged. Hayley Hammond, who played Mrs Hopkins was important in the story and demonstrated the character very well bearing in mind how very different thing were in those days and Jonathon Groves as her husband, Mr Hopkins, was excellent in his role. Sarah Milner (Clare)Bryony Brookman (Sandra) and Chelsea Love (Cass) completed the group of leading ladies.  All of them were great characters showing strength and purpose in their champagne for equal pay. The men did well in their varied roles whether part of the Ford factory line led by Sid (John Spicer) and mates to Eddie or in the management team, the civil servants, the USA team with Mr Tooley (Mark Roberts), Chubby Chuff (Mark Barnes), the O’Grady children (Henry Andrews and Phoebe Brookman) and general chorus and dancers in Dagenham.

My congratulations to the entire team for staging such an important production with such a large cast, so many short scenes and so many varied and demanding musical numbers.